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A beam of light in Upper Antelope Canyon


Antelope Canyon is the most-visited and most-photographed slot canyon in the American Southwest. It is located on Navajo land near Pagemarker, Arizonamarker. Antelope Canyon includes two separate, photogenic slot canyon sections, referred to individually as Upper Antelope Canyon or The Crack; and Lower Antelope Canyon or The Corkscrew.

The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is Tse' bighanilini, which means "the place where water runs through rocks." Lower Antelope Canyon is Hasdestwazi, or "spiral rock arches." Both are located within the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation.

Geology

Antelope Canyon was formed by erosion of Navajo Sandstone, primarily due to flash flooding and secondarily due to other sub-aerial processes. Rainwater, especially during monsoon season, runs into the extensive basin above the slot canyon sections, picking up speed and sand as it rushes into the narrow passageways. Over time the passageways are eroded away, making the corridors deeper and smoothing hard edges in such a way as to form characteristic 'flowing' shapes in the rock.

Flooding in the canyon still occurs. A flood occurred on October 30 2006 that lasted 36 hours, and caused the Tribal Park Authorities to close Lower Antelope Canyon for five months.

Tourism and photography

Antelope Canyon is a popular location for photographers and sightseers, and a source of tourism business for the Navajo Nation. It has been accessible by permit only since 1997, when the Navajo Tribe made it a Navajo Tribal Park. Photography within the canyons is difficult due to the wide exposure range (often 10 EV or more) made by light reflecting off the canyon walls.
Inside Upper Antelope Canyon


Upper Antelope Canyon

Upper Antelope Canyon, called Tse bighanilini, "the place where water runs through rocks" by the Navajo, is located at . It is the most frequently visited by tourists, due to two considerations. First, its entrance and entire length are at ground level, requiring no climbing. Second, beams (shafts of direct sunlight radiating down from openings in the top of the canyon) are much more common in Upper than in Lower. Beams occur most often in the summer months, as they require the sun to be high in the sky. Winter colors are a little more muted like the photo displayed here. Summer months provide two types of lighting. Light beams start to peek into the canyon March 15 and disappear October 7 each year.

Lower Antelope Canyon

Entrance of Lower Antelope Canyon
Stairs leading out of Lower Antelope Canyon


Lower Antelope Canyon, called Hasdeztwazi, or "spiral rock arches" by the Navajo, is located a few kilometers away. Prior to the installation of metal stairways, visiting the canyon required climbing along pre-installed ladders in certain areas. Even following the installation of stairways, it is a more difficult hike than Upper Antelope -- it is longer, narrower in spots, and even footing is not available in all areas. At the end, the climb out requires several flights of stairs.

Despite these limitations, Lower Antelope Canyon draws a considerable number of photographers, though casual sightseers are much less common there than in Upper.

The lower canyon is in the shape of a "V" and shallower than the Upper Antelope. Lighting is better in the early hours and late afternoon.

Flash flood danger

Inside Lower Antelope Canyon


Antelope Canyon is visited exclusively through guided tours, in part because rains during monsoon season can quickly flood the canyon. Rain does not have to fall on or near the Antelope Canyon slots for flash floods to whip through, as rain falling dozens of miles away 'upstream' of the canyons can funnel into them with little prior notice. On August 12 1997, eleven tourists, including seven from France, one from the United Kingdom, one from Sweden and two from the United States, were killed in Lower Antelope Canyon by a flash flood. Very little rain fell at the site that day, but an earlier thunderstorm had dumped a large amount of water into the canyon basin, seven miles upstream. The lone survivor of the flood was tour guide Francisco "Poncho" Quintana, who had prior swift-water training. At the time, the ladder system consisted of amateur-built wood ladders that were swept away by the flash flood. Today, ladder systems have been bolted in place, and deployable cargo nets are installed at the top of the canyon. At the fee booth, a NOAA Weather Radio from the National Weather Service and an alarm horn are stationed.

Entry Fees

Entry to Antelope Canyon is restricted to guided tours led by authorized guides. The Park website has a list of guides.

As of July 2008, guided tours of Upper Antelope Canyon are reported to cost $32 USD which includes Navajo Park Permit of $6, and Lower Antelope Canyon $20 per person.

References

  1. Navajo Parks & Recreation - Antelope Canyon


External links




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